Film: "Delhi In A Day"; Director: Prashant Nair; Cast: Anjali Patil, Lee Williams, Lillete Dubey, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Victor Banerjee; Rating: ** 1/2
"Delhi In A Day" is a fine reflection of our hypocritical society where the privileged class goes to any length, playing the a perfect host to a foreign guest, but has scant regard for the plight of those who work for them.
This fact is portrayed through Mukund's (Kulbushan Kharbanda) family, with Delhi as the backdrop. Mukund receives Jasper (Lee Williams), the son of his old friend from Britain with enthusiasm. His wife Kalpana (Lillete Dubey) plays the gracious host, ensuring that their retinue of servants - cook Udai Singh, helper Chotu, maid Rohini, Raghu, an old hand, and the two drivers are all engaged to put up a good impression.
Jasper, who has quit his job back home, is visiting India to experience the "mystic and spirituality of the real India". He plans to visit Varanasi, so, en-route stops at Mukund's place in Delhi. Unfortunately, Jasper's enthusiasm is short-lived as he is robbed of his life's savings (a whopping 4,500 pounds) on his very first day at Mukund's home. Naturally, the needle of suspicion points to the servants.
While the film beautifully captures the landscape of Delhi, it also successfully portrays the widespread pain and anguish of the under-privileged class. Their hapless and helpless predicament tugs at your heart-strings. Eriter-director Prashant Nair obviously empathises with their cause as he poignantly conveys this through Jasper's point of view.
A couple of forced jokes along with a few farcical characters that are typical of Delhi would have resulted in stereotyping, but Nair has taken pains to see that he has not over-egged his pudding.
Lillete Dubey and Kulbhushan Kharbanda essay their role effortlessly as the hi-flying Delhi couple. Victor Banerji as Lillete's father is wasted in the film.
It is debutant Anjali Patil as Rohini who makes an indelible impression. Her earthy looks and vibrant screen presence along with a natural performance make her the scene-stealer.
Lee Williams is the perfect Jasper, sensitive and restrained.
Raghu, Rohini's old "dadu", is so real in his vulnerability that you forget you're watching a film. Udai Singh and Chotu lend able support.
Old Hindi film songs have been skillfully woven into this simple script giving the audience some light moments.
The camera glides smoothly capturing every nuance of the film sharply. Equally crisp is the editing, making the film precise and highly watchable.
"Delhi In A Day" will surprise you, as you may go expecting nothing much out of it. It is a complete package - a simple story well-told, natural performances and the right dose of entertainment too.
Definitely worth a watch, more so as it is Nair's maiden effort.